The Future of P2P – Look to Lapland
I’m reading Jason Busch’s series on P2P in Spend Matters and the differences between the US and Europe. It’s an interesting thread and a topic that I’ve taken a close interest in.
The European Perspective
Historically the pattern has been that something gets invented or dreamed up – it could be in the US or Europe – but wherever the idea emanated, the real rapid adoption will happen in the US. It’s a vast market that has always had investment money available and the Americans just get it when it comes to product development and marketing. Technology is a great example. The computer was invented in Europe – whether you support the Babbage claim or the Turing claim or numerous others, it was a European invention. But the history books will only record this fact as a curiosity because it was IBM, Honeywell, Xerox, HP, Microsoft, Apple, Dell etc etc that turned the invention into a product. The US leads was the conventional wisdom – but this has not always been true.
This analogy shouldn’t work but it does.
In the late ’90s, I attended a conference in Nice. I was addressing a small audience from all over Europe on the hot topic of eCommerce. Over dinner we were captivated by a chap from Finland telling us about the teenagers’ craze for collecting logos on their mobile phones. I was aware through my own teenage children that texting was becoming the communication medium of choice but in Finland they’d moved on. Sure enough, the fad for collecting logos followed in the UK (long since past now of course). At the time the Nordic company Nokia was by far the dominant player in the handset world and it was becoming clear to me that a theme was emerging. Arctic Europe knew something that we didn’t in the UK while my US friends still thought I meant pager when I referred to a mobile.
Roll on a few years and I’m investigating the global capabilities of some electronic invoicing players and I find that, again, the Nordic countries are way ahead of the pack. Just like the growth of mobile phones they’ve invested in infrastructure early and again, just like for mobiles, they’ve begun to break down the competitive barriers by developing roaming agreements. (They call it interoperability bit it’s still roaming.)
OK – so Apple now dominates the handset market so maybe history is repeating itself but as far as P2P is concerned the US is way behind just now and if you want to know what the P2P landscape will look like in North America tomorrow – look at Lapland today.